1) The Action art of Hermann Nitsch
The first major influence on my work this year was a DVD and book from Hermann Nitsch, documenting his action art from the start of his career until the present day. As I watched the DVD, I realised quite quickly that I had never seen anything as visceral and moving as his performances. I’m not a fan of performance art, but Nitsch’s work hit me on a very deep and personal level. The way that he described his work as being a means of ‘waking people from the dream that they live in.’, was at once powerful and terrible. The heavy use of red and crimson in his performances and paintings; blood, berries, wine, entrails etc. His work is visceral and violent, and inspired a series focused on blood and worship.
2) Anselm Kiefer
The next important artist this year was Anselm Kiefer, who I saw at the RA. Kiefer was fascinating; focusing on worship, monumentality, Germany’s horrific past, as well as the idea of renewal and alchemy,I was immediately drawn to his work. It was at once dark, at once beautiful; focusing on the aspects of birth present in buddhism and eastern philosophies, as well as the idea that all life is cyclical; permanently renewing and repeating, the energy of each death fuelling the next life. The work also opened up to me more ideas about bringing the idea of worship into the realm of installation, on account of the last room focusing on age and the ancients.
Rome was fascinating; a city built upon the ruins of countless empires; religion and worship seeping out of every crack and crevasse. At the same time, the weather was strange; there were frequent lightning storms, and I found myself fascinated by these seemingly powerful acts of god. I have visited a few cities around Europe in recent years, but have always been interested in going to Rome for the history and rich religious culture there. I went, and was not disappointed. The ruins spread throughout the city became a focal point of inspiration for my ideas of cyclical life, death and rebirth within my alchemical circle; as well as the catholic churches inspiring my altar piece.
4) Art & The Conscious Mind; Self Awareness
Another interesting part of contextualisation was when we discussed self awareness within Art and the Conscious Mind. We discussed the possibility of a part of the artist’s consciousness being put into the artwork. I feel like self awareness is the most important aspect of being human, as well as one of the most important parts of the artist’s toolbox. If self awareness can be put into an artwork, then can an artwork be sentient? Can it understand the universe and context surrounding it, and therefore become meta? I believe so, and I eblieve artworks reflect the wants and needs of the artist that makes them. I believe that artworks can be utilised by the artist as a means of manifesting their consciousness corporeally, allowing themselves to step back from and analyse it.
5) The Gagosian; Richard Serra
On Recmmendation, and in order to research the work for my dissertation; I went along to the Richard Serra exhibition in the Gagosian. The work was fantastic, it’s use of a simple material; large steel sheets, as well as large cubes of the same material, created a beautifully minimalist exhibition. the work pushed me to look at installations through minimalism, and how less can often be more. The intrinsic nature of an object; it’s apparent energy when found, also inspired me to look at the use of found objects as a possible avenue for development. To make such powerful and moving sculptures, out of such minimalist aesthetic; is truly wonderful.
6) The Fear
After intense thought about the concepts inherent within my artwork, as well as the reasons as to why I make art; I began to coin the term ‘the fear’, to describe my fear of the eventual end of my existence. Fear plays a strong role in my work, and the work has become a means of expunging the negative emotions I feel as a means of providing comfort to myself, and others who view the artworks.
7) ‘Of Word and Flesh’ an Interview with Julia Kristeva
Situated ina book about installation, and more specifically, installation for the turn of the century; there was an interview with esteemed psychoanalyst and writer Julia Kristeva. The book was fascinating enough, nurturing my burgeoning interest within installation; as well as having an interview that focuses on the abject body. There is a need for catharsis within our contemporary society, we are all far too sterile, and as Nietszche once said; ‘God is Dead’. I find these ideas of disgust and the need for purification fascinating, and informed my practice as a means of purifying both myself, and my soul, from the negativity that surrounds my wants and fears for life.